How To Deal with Criticism as a Pastor (Leader)
I remember hearing pastor Rick Warren say at a Pastor’s Conference, “The price of leadership is criticism.” Then he went on to say that when you have critics you must respond by, “Out loving them, out fruiting them, and out living them.” As a young leader that stuck with me because criticism used to kill me.
Over the past several years I have grown and learned through the stages of being criticized as a pastor and leader. I hope the content below can help you navigate through different forms of criticism.
- Anyone who does anything will be criticized. People who sit and observe are not criticized. People who stand and move are criticized. Whenever you step out in faith and do something to try to make a difference, you will be criticized. Criticism is not always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it’s an affirmation that you are actually making a difference which are causing ripple effects that make people question and criticize you.
- Don’t worry about what people who do not know you personally are saying. We live in an interesting time. Because of social media and the internet, people who have never met you can criticize you. People who do not know you personally already have opinions about you. It can be tempting as a leader to try to perfect yourself to appease the standards of these people. However, I have learned that you should never get too concerned with what people who don't know you personally are saying about you. Their opinions of you are not valid and it should not stop you from fulfilling God’s calling on your life.
- Always listen to close friends, comrades and mentors. What really matters is what people closest to you are saying. Your close friends, family, comrades and mentors. Their opinion and criticism must carry weight. Every single one of us have blind spots. Blind spots are called blind spots because you are blind to them. When you have a close godly friend and they begin to criticize and confront you, listen to them. If you have a mentor who is concerned about you listen to them. Do not be defensive and do not justify your actions. If you have people who actually confront you and share their concerns to you, you are a blessed man or woman. My godly friends, family and mentors have played an instrumental role in my spiritual leadership.
- Be criticized for your beliefs, but try your best not to be criticized for your character. As a pastor and leader there are times I will be criticized no matter how blameless I try to live my life. Criticism is a price of leadership. However, we must strive our best not to be criticized for our character. A man or woman of conviction will do things that others will not understand. Coupled with this conviction we must have godliness. Godly and wise leaders will be able to avoid unnecessary conflict. The character and humility of Christ ought to permeate throughout our entire lives. We must do whatever it takes to exude the love of Jesus to everyone around us.
- People may criticize what you do, but they cannot argue with your fruit. God rewards faithfulness. When you remain faithful to the calling that God has placed in your life, fruitfulness will follow as a result. People may disagree with what you do, but they cannot argue against the fruit that God is producing in your life. One of the best ways to combat criticism, is to focus on what God is calling you to do. Let your fruit speak for itself. You do not need to explain yourself to others. Let God’s blessings and fruit speak on your behalf.
Do not be afraid of making mistakes. Do not be afraid of being misunderstood. Do not be afraid of being criticized. Anyone who wants to make a difference will be criticized by others. Follow your convictions and strive to be like Jesus. God wants to bless and use you for His glory!